When you need answers, this Frequently Asked Questions section may be just what you’re looking for.  Please remember that a FAQ is a “Frequently Asked Question”. If your question is not answered here, feel free to email us at sterling@sterlingstatebank.com or call us directly at one of our convenient locations and we’ll be happy to provide an answer to your question.

Switching Banks
What should I do to have my paycheck deposited electronically into my Sterling State Bank account?
We can provide you with a Direct Deposit Authorization Form that you can complete and sign to authorize the payroll switch.

What should I do to have my social security payment directly deposited into my Sterling State Bank account?
For Social Security direct deposits, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or go to www.ssa.gov/deposit/howtosign.htm.

What should I do to have payments that are automatically deducted from my old checking account transferred to my new Sterling State Bank account?
We can provide you with an Automatic Payment Form to have any drafts/automatic payments transferred to your Sterling State Bank account. Once you have cancelled the draft we can also set up new automatic deductions for you on Internet Banking with Bill Pay, so you’ll have more control over them.

What should I do if I have trouble switching my account?
Call a Personal Banker at any one of our Sterling State Bank locations if you need help.

How do I close my previous checking account?
We can provide you with an Account Closing Form to get your previous account closed. Download the form by clicking here

Internet Banking
What is Internet & 24-hour banking? 
Sterling State Bank’s Internet & 24-Hour Banking Services consist of Telephone Banking and Internet Banking. Between these services you can access your account information 24 hours a day. You can also download transaction information from Sterling State Bank to the personal financial management software programs Quicken® or Microsoft® Money.

Is there a charge for Internet banking?
Internet Banking is FREE FOR LIFE, as long as you maintain your Sterling State Bank account.

Can I view my personal accounts online?
Yes, you can view the following personal accounts through Internet Banking:

  • Checking
  • Savings
  • Lines of Credit
  • Installment Loans
  • Certificates of Deposit (CD)
  • IRAs

Can I view images of cleared checks?
You can view the front and back of checks that have cleared your account.

Can I download information from Internet banking to Quicken® or Microsoft® Money?
You can download transaction information from Sterling State Bank to the personal financial management software programs Quicken® or Microsoft® Money.

Can I print the check images?
Yes. Go to “File”, then select “Print” or right click on the check image and select “Print”.

What can I do with telephone banking?

  • Check current balances on personal and business checking, savings, CDs and installment loans.
  • Get up to 30 days of account activity for your Sterling State Bank checking and savings accounts.
  • Transfer funds between many of your Sterling State Bank accounts.

When will my funds become available when I transfer money online?
Transfers you submit before 4 p.m. (Central Standard Time) Monday through Friday will be processed that same night and will be available the following business day.

How many bills can I pay each month?
There is no limit to the number of bills you can pay. The more bills you pay through Internet Banking, the more time you save, as well as, the more money you save on postage.

What kind of computer equipment or software do I need to access Internet banking?
You need a personal computer with Internet access.

Is there a charge for bill pay?
Bill Pay is FREE for the first 90-days.  Then your charge will be $5/month with unlimited transactions.

Checking Accounts
How does overdraft protection work?
By linking your checking account to a savings account or line of credit, increments of $300 will automatically be moved into your checking account to cover any negative balances. There is a transfer fee for each occurrence that results in funds being transferred. The account linked must be a Sterling State Bank account.

What is my ABA Routing Number?
Sterling State Bank’s routing number is located at the bottom of your checks and deposit slips. Starting from the left hand corner, it is the first nine digits.

I had a fraudulent transaction clear my account, what should I do?
We suggest our customers fill out an affidavit of unauthorized debit. Affidavit’s can be obtained at any local branch. Once completed, the bank will begin doing research on the transaction.

What is the minimum age to open a checking account?
You must be 18 in the State of Minnesota to open a checking account without a parent or legal guardian.

What is Check 21?
On October 28, 2004, new legislation called the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act becomes effective. Known simply as Check 21, the legislation’s goals include “improving the overall efficiency of the nation’s payment system.”

Currently, when you write a check to someone for payment it is first deposited into their bank and is then sent back to Sterling State Bank for the check amount to be withdrawn from your account. This process is both time consuming and expensive as checks are physically transported from bank to bank.

Check 21 provides a new option: creation and use of paper reproductions of original checks. This reproduction is called a “substitute check” and is produced from a digital image of the original check.

What is a “Substitute” check?
A substitute check is a legally sanctioned document with all the rights and obligations of the original check. Substitute checks are paper copies created from electronic images of original paper checks (including both the front and the back of the original check). The front of the substitute check states: “This is a LEGAL copy of your check. You can use it the same way you would use the original check.” You may use a substitute check as proof of payment or for any other reason that requires an original check.

What if I need a copy of my check to prove payment?
If you receive a substitute check please remember that it is the legal equivalent of the original check you wrote and will include all the information contained on the original check. It can be used for proof of payment just like the original check.

Can I view my account statement online?
You can access up to 18 months of your statements-FREE-with our secure and convenient online eStatements. Our Sterling State Bank eStatements reduce the risk of identity theft and mail fraud, and allow you to view, print, and save your online statements at home, or from any computer with Internet access-from our secure Sterling State Bank site log-on.

CDs and Savings Accounts
What is the difference between APR and APY? 
The APR rate for a CD is the percentage of interest the customer will earn if the interest paid is out of the CD. The APY is the percentage of interest the customer will earn if they allow the interest to stay in the CD.

What is the minimum to open a CD?
$1,000 will open a traditional CD.  $2,500 will open any one of our CD specials.

How can I open a CD?
You can visit any Sterling State Bank location.

How do I calculate how much interest will be paid on a CD?
Take the Principle Amount x Interest Rate/ 365 days x Number of Days in the Term = Interest

What is the minimum to open a savings account?
$200 will open a regular Money Market Savings account.

Personal Debit Cards
What is a Debit Card?
Sterling State Bank's Debit Cards are a convenient and secure banking option that looks like a credit card but works like a check. The amount of your purchase is withdrawn directly from your checking account. Transactions are listed in detail on your monthly statement.

Can I select my own “secret code” for purchases and ATM transactions?
Yes! You may select a 4-digit secret code, which allows you the convenience of using "memorable dates", names, etc.  But remember not to share it with anyone!

Can I access more than one account with my card?
You may link one checking and one savings account to a single card. Your designated checking account is the funding account for transactions and purchases at Visa® merchants.

Is there a charge for using my Debit Card?
The Sterling State Bank Debit Card is FREE with any of Sterling's personal checking accounts.

Safety tips when using your card . . .
We know that you'll enjoy the convenience your Sterling State Bank Debit Card provides! We strongly encourage all our customers to practice the ATM Network safety and security tips noted above.

  1. Do NOT use an ATM if you are uncomfortable with the surroundings. If suspicious-looking individuals are loitering about, wait until the premises are clear or use another ATM.
  2. Avoid using ATMs alone. Have someone accompany you, especially at night.
  3. At night, choose an ATM that is well-lit.
  4. Park as close as possible to the ATM.
  5. When using a drive-up ATM, be sure that all doors are locked and all passenger windows are closed.
  6. Have your card out and be ready when you approach the ATM. Complete any forms beforehand.
  7. Be aware of the surrounding areas. Don't hesitate to cancel the transaction and leave if anything seems suspicious.
  8. Don't display cash near the ATM. Count it later. Contact us if there is a discrepancy.
  9. Use ATMs only where you feel safe.
  10. Memorize your ATM Secret Code. Never write your Secret Code on your card or keep it in your wallet or purse.
  11. Do NOT give information about your account or your Secret Code to strangers.
  12. Stand directly in front of the ATM so no one else can see the Secret Code you enter.
  13. Keep your ATM receipt. Personal account information may be printed on it.
  14. Inspect your monthly statement, and report any unusual or unauthorized transactions.

We know that you'll enjoy the convenience your Sterling State Bank Debit Card provides! We strongly encourage all our customers to practice the ATM Network safety and security tips noted above.

Small Business
If my account has transaction limitations, what counts as a “transaction”?
Checks paid and items deposited (over the counter) are considered transactions. The following do not count as withdrawals:  Internet Banking, ATM & Check Card or Bill Payment.

How do I order business checks?
You may reorder your Deluxe® Business checks by calling or stopping by any one of our Sterling State Bank locations.

What are the benefits to my company by offering payroll direct deposit through Sterling State Bank?

  • You save time by eliminating preparation of payroll checks.
  • You save time and money by eliminating reissues or stop payments.
  • Reduces lost time by employees who leave work to deposit or cash payroll checks.
  • Reduces clerical time for checking account reconciliation and issuance.
  • Low cost for start-up fees.
  • Viewed by your employees as an additional benefit.
  • You benefit from our experience at Sterling State Bank.

How can my employees open a Sterling State Bank account?
Sterling State Bank representatives would be happy to come to your company to present a variety of account options to your employees and open accounts while on-site. Your employees can also walk into any one of our Sterling State Bank locations to open their new account.

Home Equity
What is a home equity?
Home equity is the part of your home that you own outright. In other words, it is the difference between the appraised value and any outstanding mortgage balances(s). For example, if your home is worth $150,000 and the principal balance remaining on your mortgage is $100,000, then your home equity - the portion of your home that you own - is $50,000.

What are some of the benefits of borrowing using the equity in my home?

  • Lower Interest Rates. You can save money with a lower interest rate compared to most credit cards, auto loans, and unsecured lines of credit.
  • Tax Advantages. In many instances, the interest paid on a Home Equity Loan or Line is tax deductible. Consult your tax advisor for details.
  • Debt Consolidation. Using your home's equity to pay off high-interest rate debt, such as credit cards, is the smart way to improve your cash flow.
  • Home Improvements. Investing the money in home improvements actually helps to build equity while borrowing against it.
  • Emergencies. It's comforting to know that the financial power of your home can help during an illness, loss, or other emergency.
  • Education. For many people, a Home Equity Loan or Line is the only means available to finance college, graduate or technical schools, or other educational endeavors.

Is a home equity loan or line right for me?
Absolutely! You have worked hard to build equity in your home. Now, put it to work for you, and enjoy the many benefits of a Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit.

What is the difference between a home equity loan and a home equity line of credit?
A Home Equity Loan provides you with a one-time lump sum cash amount. You repay it as you would any other installment loan in fixed monthly payments. These fixed-rate loans guarantee that your rate will never change and your payment will never increase. Once you get the money, you cannot borrow further from that loan.
A Home Equity Line of Credit establishes a maximum line of credit that you can draw against by simply writing a check. You borrow what you need when you need it. As you repay your principal, that money becomes available to borrow over and over again. That means you don't have to reapply every time you need funds.

Where do I close my loan?
At a Sterling State Bank convenient to you.

How long does it take to close?
Typically, loans are ready to close within two weeks.

When do I get my funds?
Once you close your loan, federal regulations require that we wait three business days before the loan or line of credit proceeds are available to you. During those three days, you have the right to cancel the transaction.

What is an adjustable-rate mortgage?
A type of mortgage in which the interest rate adjusts periodically according to a predetermined index and margin. The adjustment results in the mortgage payment either increasing or decreasing. A 1-year ARM, for example, will have an initial interest rate for 1 year and then adjust on the second year, and continue to adjust annually over the life of the loan. With an ARM loan, you typically get a lower starting rate in exchange for taking a risk that rates may raise in the future. There is also a cap on how much the interest rate can go up or down.

What is a fixed-rate mortgage?
A Fixed-rate mortgage is a loan that has the interest rate and payment set for the life of the loan. The benefit is that you always know what your principal and interest costs will be.  This takes the guesswork out of planning.

Does Sterling State Bank offer first-time home buyer programs?
Yes, Sterling State Bank has numerous lending programs to help make home ownership affordable for low- and moderate-income home buyers.

What is a down payment?
This is the amount of money you have available to put down toward the purchase of a home. The down payment and the loan amount make up the purchase price of the home.  We also have programs available that do not require a down payment.

What sources can I draw from for my down payment?
Examples of acceptable sources for your down payment are savings accounts, money market accounts, the sale of real estate, stock liquidation, IRAs, 401(k), cash value of a life insurance policy, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts and gifts.

What are closing costs?
Money paid by the borrower (or seller) to affect the closing of a mortgage loan. This normally includes an origination fee, title insurance, appraisal, attorney's fees and such prepaid items as taxes and insurance escrow payments.

What is a Good Faith Estimate (GFE)?
A Good Faith Estimate (GFE) is an estimate from Sterling State Bank that outlines the costs you will incur during the mortgage process. This is provided to you when you apply for your loan.

What is an APR?
APR stands for the Annual Percentage Rate and is a measurement tool used to provide a standard basis of comparison of loans offered by competing lenders, which takes into account the loan's interest rate, closing costs, and other fees such as points. An APR lets you see the total cost of a loan, including fees and points over the life of the loan, not just the interest due.

When should I lock or float my rate?
You can lock a rate anytime after we receive and review your signed loan application, you pay your application fee and you have identified a property. The typical lock-in period is 30 days. This means that once you lock in the rate, you must close your loan within 30 days. Once you lock, you cannot un-lock. If you think rates may fall, don't lock and instead float your rate. If you are unsure or adverse to risk, it might be better to lock your rate.

How do I lock in my interest rate?
During the application process, discuss the rate options with your loan originator and call us anytime during the process to lock your loan.

What are points?
Also called discount points, a point is 1% of the amount of the loan. Points are a one-time fee added to your closing costs and generally results in a slightly lower interest rate on your loan.

What is an origination fee?
A fee or charge for the work involved in the evaluation, preparation, and submission of a proposed mortgage loan.

What is an appraisal?
A report by a qualified appraiser providing a professional opinion or estimate of value.

What is Title insurance?
Title Insurance is a policy issued to lenders and/or buyers to protect any losses because of a dispute over the ownership of a piece of property.

What is Private Mortgage insurance?
Insurance written by a private company protecting the mortgage lender against loss as a result of a mortgage default.  This is required for any loan with a loan-to-value greater than 80 percent.

What will my monthly payment include?
Principal and interest.  If you escrow (required when loan-to-value is greater than 80 percent) insurance and taxes, condo fees, and mortgage insurance, if applicable.

When will my first payment be due?
At closing, you will receive temporary payment coupons that will indicate when your first payment is due.

What is Fannie Mae?
Fannie Mae, also known as the Federal National Mortgage Association, is a congressionally chartered corporation that purchases conventional mortgages in the secondary market.

What is a late charge?
An additional charge a borrower is required to pay as a penalty for failure to pay a regular installment when due.

What are E-Statements?
E-Statements are electronic (PDF file) copies of your Sterling State Bank account statements. The E-Statement is an exact copy and contains all of the same information that you receive via your standard statement. The benefit of an E-Statement is that you can view, print or save a copy of your bank statement at your convenience. It’s your choice!

Is there a cost for E-Statements?
E-Statements are free!

Will I still get a paper statement delivered to my house?
To ensure that the transition between your paper statements and electronic statements goes smoothly, you will receive paper statements for your next two statement cycles. After the two month transition period, you will no longer receive paper statements.

What accounts are eligible for E-Statements?
E-Statements are currently available for all checking accounts.

How will I know a new E-Statement is ready to be viewed?
Each month, you will receive an e-mail notification that lets you know your statement is ready. The message will not contain any confidential information, such as your account number. The message will provide a link that will direct you to the “Log In” screen of our Internet Banking service, where you'll use your User ID and Password to access your account statement.

I currently receive my canceled checks.  If I enroll for E-Statements, will I still receive my checks? 
If you are a Return Check customer and you enroll for E-Statements, you will receive an electronic image of your check. You will no longer receive copies of your returned checks.

What is a PDF?  Do I need Adobe Acrobat Software to view my E-Statements?
A PDF is a Portable Document File and is a standard way to deliver electronic documents on the Internet. Your E-Statement will be delivered to you as a PDF document. To read your PDF E-Statement document you will need a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have a copy of Adobe Reader, you can download a copy free of charge from www.adobe.com.

Can I save my E-Statement?
You can save your E-Statement by choosing “File”, then “Save As” from the Adobe Acrobat menu selections.

What if I need a copy of a canceled check?
If you need a copy of a canceled check, you can request that from any one of our convenient locations.  Our Personal Bankers will be happy to help you. Fees may apply.

How do I get a copy of an old paper statement?
You will be able to view your statement for 13 months. If you did not print or save a copy of your E-Statement and it is no longer available, you can submit a request with any one of our Personal Bankers.  Fees may apply.

What security methods are used to protect my E-Statement?
Because User IDs and Passwords are needed to access your E-Statement, your personal information is more secure than it is in your mailbox. Sterling State Bank also uses state-of-the-art security measures to ensure that your confidential identity information is protected 24-hours a day.

Sterling State Bank’s Internet products use the latest encryption technology to secure your data. Encryption is the process of transforming data into a form unreadable to anyone except those who possess the decryption key.
For your protection, we use 128-bit encryption throughout our Internet Banking website. It’s not a problem if your browser doesn't support 128-bit encryption. You can download a new browser for free.

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